Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iraqi Poetry Today

Poet and Iraq war veteran Brian Turner read from his remarkable book, Here, Bullet, poems from his experience of war, at Bowdoin College this spring. I asked him if he had read any contemporary Iraqi poets, and he recommended Iraqi Poetry Today, which we now have in stock. Here are a few pieces:

from section 10 of Every Morning the War gets Up from Sleep
by Fadhil al Azzawi

This is war then: All is well.
The missiles bomb the cities and the airplanes bid the clouds farewell.
It is nothing but a corpse which grows and stretches
Between Kirkuk and Isfahan
Between Baghdad and Qum,
Between Irbil and Tehran,
Between time and time,
Between blood and blood.
All is well.
Except for this spring approaching from afar.
Except for those birds flying between one front and another,
Except for those who wait their death in silence,
Except for this mother whose cries I can hear from afar.
Ah! I saw eyes glowing amidst the branches,
A monster running on a sea-coast
Gliding down from my heart.

Peace to you, O Iraq!
Peace to springtime, coming forth from the fissures of the earth!
Peace to Baghdad, redeemer and redeemed!
Beace to Basra, to its burnt palm-trees!
Peace to Kirkuk, to its red sky!
Peace to Amara, to its marshes mined with dynamite!
Peace to the fourteen provinces!
Thus does the war get up from sleep.
A man takes it to a hillock
and leaves it in History.
Then he wipes away his tears with a rose
Which he hurls at a hazel bird,
Which rises up from its ashes
And soars far away.

and fromJigerkhwen (Sheikh Mus Hasan Muhamad)

I am the Voice

I am the voice of the mountainside
I am the hammer in the laborer's hand
I am the sickle in the peasant's hand
I am the enemy of reactionaries
I am the vanguard of progressives
I am the colleague of the oppressed, whomever or wherever
I am the opponent of the opressor, whether near or far
I am the comrade of the peshmerge, and of revolution
I am the voice of the workers, whether in London or Paris
I am the sympathizer of the students, whether in Istanbul or Tabriz
I am the hand of the martyr
I am the voice of the Kurdish people
I am a Kurdish revolutionary
I refuse to yield to the likes of Al-Jamail, Shimon and Hitler
I refuse to bow to arms merchants and warmongers
I am a fighter like Che Guevara
I am a comrade of Ho Chi Minh
I am a supporter of the Tudeh, whether in Awaz or Tehran
I am a patriot and militiaman, like Salvador Allende
I am a protector of my people lie Gandhi or Nehru of India
In the Congo, I am the voice of Lumumba
In Chile I am Neruda
I am Castro in Cuba
I am the voice of Kebuchi in Jerusalem
I am the voice of Makarios in Cyprus
I am the voice of Newab and Gorki
I am the voice of Martin Luther King among American Negroes
I am the voice of Jegerkhwen, Mahmoud Darwish, and Lorca

and from Sadiq al-Saygh


On the street today, I sold
A bag heavy with gods
out of sheer hunger.

Iraqi Poetry Today, 288 pages, 40 poets.
We also have individual books by three poets in this anthology: S'adi Yusuf, Dunya Mikhail, and Fadhil al-Azzawi.


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